Kevin Doyle’s 80th-minute equalizer to spark the Colorado Rapids’ 2-1 comeback victory over Columbus Crew SC on Saturday was only the Irish international’s third of the season.
Even so, Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni says Doyle’s value must be measured beyond just scoring stats.
“I think Doyle does a lot of the work that goes unnoticed,” Mastroeni said. “It’s not easy to put in the shift he puts in every game and he does it selflessly. He makes runs in the box, he gets back and helps defend, he does all the little things that are the glue to this group.”
Doyle’s strike turned the tide, and with five game-winning goals since joining the club in 2015, he’s been valued for that clutch ability and his tireless efforts in matches and training.
“He might take a lot of flak for whatever reason, but he’s a guy that I would go to war with every day of the week,” Mastroeni said. “Because he cares about the team. He puts himself in situations where no one would stick their head in, but he does it for the group.”
Doyle has embraced a changed role this season as a deeper forward with more defensive responsibility.
“I have played deeper nearly every game to be honest,” he explained. “It has been in that deeper role and physically it takes a lot out of you. A lot more running and a lot more concentration because you have to defend and pick people up. This is a different role, but it’s just how we play.”
It’s a tough ask for any offensive-minded player, particularly one who originally arrived as a Designated Player, but Doyle has seen eye to eye with Mastroeni throughout the process.
“I enjoy getting stuck in,” Doyle said. “I enjoy being involved in the back a bit more than you would be if you were up top.”
Hard work paid dividends with the goal and a third win in five games for Colorado.
For Doyle, what made the goal and the win extra special was the ability to pay homage to a Rapids’ legend, Conor Casey, who was inducted into the team’s Gallery of Honor before the match.
“It’s nice on a night like that and great for Conor,” said Doyle, who fills the same No.9 jersey previously worn by Casey for Colorado. “For us to lose on a night like tonight, it would’ve put a dampener on a big celebration. I know upstairs he’s got his family and friends here so now I know he can celebrate after the game.”
Doyle's third goal tied him with Dominique Badji for the team lead.
The Rapids’ 12 goals scored so far are the fewest in the Western Conference. But Doyle believes his equalizer, paired with Alan Gordon’s debut tally for Saturday’s winner, is a sign the goals will start to come in bunches.
“I think so,” he said. “It was one of our better goals probably, nice buildup play, nice passes. That makes it easy for a center forward. You just have to tap it in. I’d like that every week.”